Wonder Woman is in Valhalla, with few memories of her previous life, getting used to the daily routine of battling dead Norsemen, occasional dying and coming back in time for a jug of mead and a row with a particularly useless specimen.
With Thor refusing to admit that a dying World Tree, missing warriors and absent Valkyries is a problem, Diana sets out with new squirrel pal Ratatosk to find out what’s going on. Soon, she’s up to her furry cape in bad-tempered Murk Elves.
Also, she’s forgotten her sword… but as Asgardian weapons are forged by dwarves, why not check out the nearest forge?
Now there’s a surprise! Dr Psycho, one of Wonder Woman’s oldest and nastiest foes, spends his downtime in a mythical realm. And he looks ridiculously cool, pouring molten iron in his shirt and tie.
Diana manages to get a clue from the mad misogynist, continuing her journey into mystery.
And what a journey this is. Diana may be dead – or maybe not, as despite being in an afterlife, she keeps getting kindasorta killed – but this is the most fun she’s been in years. Her annoyance at Thor, refusal to go back for her weapon after flouncing out, teasing of Ratatosk… I don’t think we’ve seen such a laid-back Amazon since Gail Simone was writing him. Yes, she’s making holes in elves with a very pointy spear, and that looks like blood on the end, but this is Valhalla, they’ll no doubt all be back soon.
Ratatosk is a hoot too, with his ‘helpful forest creature’ routine that Diana isn’t fully buying, while that snake on the cover is as sinister as you could wish a giant serpent to be. I’m thrilled to bits to see Dr Psycho – sorry, Cizko – show up, astral projection is a long-established tool in his evil bag of tricks, so why couldn’t he use Valhalla as his vacation spot?
And good on writers Michael W Conrad and Becky Cloonan for not having Diana insult him for his stature – the bad doctor is a scumbag, but his being a dwarf or midget is irrelevant. Plus, that opening Thor gag is brilliantly smutty.
While we’re present with Diana for most of the story, there’s an omniscient narrator and I like their tone – it’s storytelling without the tweeness that so often comes when a comic gets vaguely Tolkein.
The other element is Deadman, who Diana meets every time she gets killed/‘killed’ – sure, he isn’t seen clearly, or named, but that’s good ol’ Boston Brand. I’m dying to know what his deal is here.
Illustrator Travis Moore and colourist Tamra Bonvillain once again provide career best artwork; this is a fully realised Valhalla, with its cosy drinking den, snowy wastes and terrifying tree. Diana moves across the pages like the passionate heroine she is, while Ratatosk is cute without being too whimsical. The elves are creepily attractive, there’s a freaky giant eagle, and as noted earlier, Edgar Cizko has never looked better.
Pat Brosseau’s font choices are superb, from Ratatosk’s ‘ickle voice’ to the serpent’s wobbly words.
The chapter ends on an intriguing note and I can’t wait to see what comes next – I’ve never been a big fan of quests, but the creators, as they say, have my attention.
I wasn’t keen on the Teen Diana back-up strip last time, and while I still think it’s more suited to a Young Adult comic than this distinctly grown-up Wonder Woman run, I did enjoy it a lot more. The art by illustrator Paulina Ganucheau and colourist Kendal Goode is again children’s book delightful, but writer Jordie Bellaire moves beyond Diana having adventures on Themicyra to confronting a mystery. I also like the personality of our adolescent warrior – cheeky, smart, curious and, while happy to play the Princess card when it suits, kicking against the idea of a hierarchy.
There are nice letters, too, courtesy of Becca Carey.
Travis Moore and Tamra Bonvillain’s cover is terrific, apparently a homage to a Gray Morrow classic…
… but massive monster mouths are a bit of a Wonder Woman tradition.
If you missed last issue, grab it and this one, and enjoy a wonderfully written, fabulously drawn Wonder Woman comic.